Remember green

Forced by famine
on green green grass,
an island cemetery
infested by potato fungi
on waves of hunger
migrants came, to settle,
to carve another bit
of promised land to till.

Wear your green today —
say “sláinte” and drink;
remember ache
of all their swollen bellies
seeking soil
to still starvation.
Like millions do today.

O’Malley Home (Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland) by Robert Henri

Brendan asks us to write for S:t Patrick’s day today at toads. My choice was to write about the the great famine of 1845-49, and the wave of emigration that followed. I will also link to Poetry Pantry tomorrow.

March 17, 2018

35 responses to “Remember green

  1. When the Irish fled the famine to the New World they were treated with disdain. Unwanted and refused jobs and treated as out casts they struggled and persevered. My own ancestors arrived here from Wales in 1700. History repeats itself but the majority here still say give us your poor. Wonderful post.

  2. Many Irish immigrated to my city; and actually the largest Irish music festival in the world is held here every summer. Wonderful tribute to our immigrants from Eire. Today St.Pat’s Day is a big day here. In fact, all busses give free rides so that the drinkers can get home safely. I didn’t wear green, but I appreciate the Irish greatly.

  3. Very sad and moving. My ancestors came from England I the late 1600’s, early settlers in NC coast, English and Danish, no Irish. We had an Irish maid once, lovely woman who sang about her work. She’d tell me tales and how her ancestors came to America during the Famine. Sad sad sad.

  4. Oh, that painting! Germany suffered too – my relative came here because of the potato blight! Wonderful poem – you caught the mood – but I also think we celebrate the pluck of the people who fought to survive – it isn’t an easy thing to do – sometimes easier to lay down and die I suppose.

  5. A poignant time, no doubt. The disdain the Irish were shown in those times was appalling. But such is history….it highlights our failings in the hope that we do not repeat them.

  6. Very effective lines, Bjorn:
    ‘an island cemetery
    infested by potato fungi’
    ‘remember ache
    of all their swollen bellies
    seeking soil
    to still starvation’.

  7. I saw the museum in Strokestown in Ireland, learning a lot about the famine and its consequences for the first time… it’s a shame how people treat people and never seem to learn from history. Beautifully written Bjorn.

  8. “remember ache of all their swollen bellies seeking soil to still starvation”… this is so poignant… I hope a similiar time period and suffering never occurs.

  9. Yes, famine is ever-present in many parts of the world, as is the need to find fertile land.

  10. Yep, you nailed it. 65 million displaced people today due to famine, war and political instability, trapped in that nowhere between death and accursed existence. Wearing the green is truly lifting the flag of our present dispossessed.

  11. a terrible time indeed and so very well painted in your words – the green takes on a sickly hue here

  12. Your closing line is a stark truth. Someone, somewhere, is always hungry…and we continue to rape our world, and the problem will grow and grow as we change our world to desert, a desert of whatever kind.

  13. Vividly evoked … and then the almost throwaway but oh so telling last line.

  14. The story of the Irish potato famine is repeated daily around the world. And that puzzles—and angers—me greatly, because there’s more than enough food in this world for everyone.

  15. My Great Grandma fled the potato famine in Ireland to become a homesteader in Canada so this poem hits home. Especially the line “as millions do today”. So true.

  16. Nice tribute to the history of the culture we now celebrate with parties and beer. Thanks for the reminder of what lives in my DNA.

  17. Brilliant take on the prompt. Emigration has spurred on great developments and technological advances … so much so, we tend to forget that when people are compelled to leave behind almost ‘everything’ they know and hold dear, it is usually because some dark force (famine, war, tyranny …) has forced them to do so.

  18. Nicely done, the link of past to present and how our rituals can be remembrances. Famine is inexcusable in this world.

  19. This is really solid writing. I’m especially impressed by the first four lines of the first stanza and the first three lines of the second stanza.

  20. St. Pat’s Day is a fun day. Lots of celebrating, Houston had a parade but we didn’t go. You aptly described a bunch of the revelers.

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